Your Excellencies….Distinguished Guests….Ladies Gentlemen…..
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this imperative renewed event. And please allow me first to convey my special greetings for the valuable efforts exerted by all organizers and sponsors of the fifth round of the UAE Global Investment Forum. There is no doubt that this forum became an ideal regular platform for all stakeholders, to share their views and thoughts regarding the world investments map in general and the national investment prospects in particular. I am personally fascinated with the growing keenness among key entities and top representatives, both locally and internationally, to participate in the forum, which increasingly reflects upon the forum importance and optimistic reputation. It is worth stressing on the perfect timing of the forum’s current round, which almost coincidences with the passage of one year on the MENA region latest developments. A fact that highly praises the forum’s discussions and deliberations. In spite of the relative complexity surrounding the investment decision in the region, but in these difficult times lie opportunities. Thus, I am personally optimistic that the changing landscape of the region’s investment map coupled with its growth potential, is moving forward to a more promising future, with rising emphasis on the UAE in particular as an attractive investment hub. I totally believe the chance has never been more suitable as now to capitalize on the emerging investment opportunities of the UAE in general and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in particular. Therefore, today’s forum just comes on time to provide the required foresight and awareness to capture national emerging opportunities.
Distinguished Attendees….Globally, and despite the sustained considerable uncertainty and challenges confronting the world economic stability, however, evidences show that the world investment scene has experienced positive signs in 2011 along the recovery path, joined with promising outlook for the near future, which echoes the successful measures undertaken by the international community to further stimulate investments movements and retain investors confidence. Recent investments trends released by the United Nations Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) show that global Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflows increased by 17% in 2011, where (FDI) inflows figures increased from US $ 1.2 trillion in 2010 to reach US $ 1.5 trillion in 2011. Moreover, the trends revealed that both developing and transition economies did capture half of global (FDI) inflows in 2011, at an estimated US $ 755 billion. Besides, (FDI) inflows to developed countries rose by 18% in 2011, where the surge was mainly due to cross-border merger and acquisitions (MAs) activity. In 2012, (UNCTAD) estimates that (FDI) flows will increase reasonably to reach US $ 1.6 trillion. In the same context, accurate monitoring of the recent world investments movements reveals key distinguished facts, where I believe it is worth noting. On one hand, the diverging trends in (FDI) forms were clearly underscored in 2011, where Mergers and Acquisitions (MAs) activity witness a growth rate of 49% last year, compared with a decline by 3% in Greenfield investments over the same year. The rise in (FDI) flows in developed economies, as I have just mentioned, was driven by growing (MAs) activity, mainly in Europe. Meanwhile, is it worth noting that the UAE was widely perceived as the leading (MAs) harbor in the MENA region, with remarkable international corporate reports perceive the country's (MAs) activity as the most active all over the region in 2012. On the other hand, the growing share of agriculture as a prime (FDI) recipient sector, represents another key distinction trend within the global investment scene. The recent (FDI) booming in agriculture could be traced back to 2008, where food prices hikes paid attention on food security worldwide, signaling a remarkable rise in foreign investments in agriculture. According to the (OECD) UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China and Korea are among the world major investors in agricultural land.
Ladies and Gentlemen….Nationally, seeking to reaffirm our image as the leading gateway for foreign investments in the Middle East, the UAE is continuously committing itself to promote one of the region most diversified economies, with proliferating attractive investment opportunities. Hence, it is worth noting that although high levels of GDP being achieved by almost all GCC countries in recent years, only UAE joined by Bahrain are well diversified enough to be categorized in the innovation driven stage of development, the highest level of development, according to The Arab World Competitiveness Report 2011-2012.UAE's overall global competitiveness, 27th globally out of 142 economies surveyed, is a product of tangible achievements among key sub-indicators. For example, the country's high quality of infrastructure, where it captures the 8th position globally, as well as the 10th globally in terms of its highly efficient goods markets. Moreover, UAE's strong macroeconomic stability comes at the 11th globally, in addition to other aspects of the country’s institutions – such as high public trust in politicians (8th globally) and high government efficiency (5th).
In Abu Dhabi, cross border investments, joined with international trade, have traditionally been a defining characteristic and a principal pillar of the Emirate’s viewpoint with the wider world. In adhering to our recently launched long term road map for future prosperity, mainly Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, our 3 years old journey is full of concrete progress and tangible achievements, where economic diversification is the main theme. Recent statistics show that non-oil GDP captured 50.3% of the emirate’s total GDP, while oil GDP accounted for 49.7% in 2010. A target to be reached by 2015 according to our Economic Vision 2030, which validates the balanced approach being followed by the Emirate.
Given the solid guidelines laid down by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Chairman of the Executive Council, aiming at releasing the hidden potential of the economy, the government of Abu Dhabi has set, the boosting of FDI as a key priority, where the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 targets FDI to capture 23% of GDP by 2030. In this regard, based upon Abu Dhabi’s firm fundamentals, it is clear that the Emirate stands as a promising hub for investments and partnerships, motivated particularly by the government-targeted 10 focus sectors. These sectors enjoy great and effective government support, backed by huge infrastructure investments. In fact, Abu Dhabi offers a considerable package of incentives to foreign investors and companies wishing to invest in the emirate, making it one of the most competitive investment destinations. In the same context, a recently published report by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), entitled Hot Spots, which ranks the most competitive cities in the world for their demonstrated ability to attract capital, business, talent and tourists, according to the report, UAE’s two major sisters cities Abu Dhabi and Dhabi are ranked as the most competitive cities in the middle east. Being a key player among the Emirate’s economic vision taskforce, (DED) has committed itself to develop one of the most highly interactive business environment with Abu Dhabi’s private sector needs. Currently, (DED) is working on the final touches of key important initiatives to further enhance our national economy competitiveness. The ongoing efforts of establishing a dedicated Investment Promotion Agency coupled with setting up a world class Export Promotion Agency, are major enablers to fulfill our vision goals. Ladies and Gentlemen…. Honorable brothers and sisters….
In closing , At this point of time, where investors are hesitated about whether to invest or wait for more encouraging economic conditions, you may agree with me that it is within the scope of our forum to widely share the full half of the investment scene cup, and provide investors with the required awareness to capitalize on the emerging opportunities.
Once again, I would like to welcome you all in Abu Dhabi, and I wish you a very successful forum.